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Indigenous Designs Terra Sport SPOTLITE REVIEW

A performance sweater made from all natural fabrics

Overall Rating: Above Average

The Terra Sport midweight active wear uses an innovative combination of natural fibers and is successful at getting the best aspects of each individual fiber into the final product. The Terra Sport fabric is comfortable, durable, and performs very well as a mid-layer. It's as good any sweater I have used in the field - however as a lighweight product it suffers from its 12 ounce weight.

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by Don Wilson |

Indigenous Designs Terra Sport SPOTLITE REVIEW

Overview

In the summer of 2005 I visited the Andean Highlands and was struck by the common use of alpaca wool. Fabrics made from alpaca are soft and lush and are used by native peoples throughout the high country of South America. But pure alpaca wool is fragile; most garments I saw in Peru were decorative and did not look like they would be up to our standards for backcountry use. At the Outdoor Retailer show in January 2007 I met with the team at Indigenous Designs to look at their all natural blended fabrics that utilize alpaca wool extensively. They have devised a fabric with 3 components - merino wool, alpaca wool and tencel. The Terra Sport line of sweaters is specifically designed for high performance outdoor use. Over the past 7 months I have put these sweaters through all sorts of abuse - on trail, off trail, in rain, cold, heat and wind. In the photo at right I am wearing the Terra Sport Edge Crew at the misty Col de Barrancq in the French Pyrenees.

The blended fabric is listed as 45 percent Tencel, 40 percent alpaca wool and 15 percent merino wool. Tencel was developed in Europe and is derived from wood pulp. It is the branded name of the fiber lyocell. By itself, Tencel has some interesting characteristics - it is soft to the skin, rapidly wicks water, is strong when wet or dry, and is resistant to bacteria growth (it is frequently used in medical dressings).

The fabric in the Indigenous Designs Terra Sport line is very soft on the skin; more comfortable than any merino wool midweight fabric I have tested. It feels as comfortable as alpaca wool, but has a tighter weave than any pure alpaca fabrics of similar weight I have seen. I was very intrigued and anxious to get it out into the field. My primary concern with the fabric - how would it stand up under rigorous use? How would it compare with merino wool in bad weather?

We tested several Terra Sport midweight layers over the past few months, but I found the Edge Crew to be my favorite. For a midweight sweater, the Edge is very comfortable, and can easily be worn against your skin all day long. I had my Edge out on the field for over 30 days, and nearly always wore a pack all day. The fabric held up very well, and looks almost as good as new. It washes easily and I have not detected any odor buildup. There are a couple of fabric pulls that have developed on the rear shoulders, and one small one on the lower arm. The Terra Sport is the perfect match for a lightweight windshirt. By itself, it is a warm, very breathable outer layer. You'll stay dry during moderate exertion, but warm when you rest. When the cold or wind picks up, throw on a wind shirt and the pair offer excellent wind and cool weather warmth. I wore my Edge Crew this summer in the Pyrenees whenever we got into high country. The Pyrenees were shrouded in constant wet clouds this summer - and the resulting cool, wet conditions were easily handled by the Edge Crew. The overall construction quality is very good, and the fit is slightly tapered - perfect for a mid-layer. In light rain, water beaded up on the surface for at least a few minutes, but eventually penetrated down through the porous fabric. The big drawback of the Edge Crew is it's weight, which is true of all sweaters. At 12.5 ounces it is heavier than I would like given the insulation and protection it provides. But combined with a wind shirt, you can have a flexible and warm package at about 16 total ounces. It is good to see manufacturers such as Indigenous Designs exploring new fabric blends. We will continue to look for new products that push the envelope of innovation and performance.

The Terra Sport line is available in both men's and women's products. All are midweight fabrics and are available in full zip, crew, mock-t, hoodies and other styles.

Specifications and Features

  • Manufacturer: Indigenous Designs (http://www.indigennousdesigns.com/)
  • Year/Model: 2007 Terra Sport Edge Crew
  • Materials:: Blended fabric of 45 percent Tencel, 40 percent alpaca wool, 15 percent merino wool
  • Weight: measured weight 12.5 oz (354 g) men's size L
  • MSRP: $116

Citation

"Indigenous Designs Terra Sport SPOTLITE REVIEW," by Don Wilson. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/indigenous_designs_terrasport_spotlite_review.html, 2007-09-03 19:39:00-06.

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